2 December 2016
High of 34° – Super Sunny
It seems our streak of super nice weather has come to an end. The last week was tough as temps dipped into the teens each night and it hasn’t been above freezing except for today. Also, it has been cloudy and crazy windy, leading to some problems with a camper running off of solar power and exposed to the elements.
We woke up Tuesday morning to find our water pump had frozen, despite the hay bales all around the camper. We have to unhook the water hose to the camper from the hydrant each night, as the hose will freeze and the ice will move into the camper plumbing system and the hydrant causing all kinds of problems. So, to have water available, we have a fresh water tank in the camper and a water pump that provides water to the hot water heater, the toilet and the faucets. Well, Tuesday morning el pumpo no worko! Frustration followed as we realized the hydrant was frozen as well so we had no access to running water. The high on Tuesday was in the 20’s and it was cloudy and windy with no chance of thawing out and not a lot of excess power from the solar panels…..ugh….morale buster!
We went to Custer and bought some antifreeze and a space heater to stick under the camper. We were both feeling pretty low, thinking we may have busted our camper and how it would be next to impossible to live out here without any running water. We even contemplated winterizing the camper and getting a month to month rental in town…morale buster.
I talked to my parents on the phone that day. Dad told me how when he grew up they didn’t have running water or heat in their house. He grew up in Iowa and the cold winters were not easy in that situation. He said they would wake up and have to break ice off the top of the water bucket to get something to drink, then he and his siblings would run to the barn which was warm because that’s where the cows were! Well, I guess we don’t have it that bad in our little propane heated camper. Mom said, “things break and when it’s cold they break a lot.” I’ll take these wise lessons from two seasoned farmers who lived in a time where cold and no water were the norm, not the exception. Thanks for the gut-check Mom and Dad….morale booster!
Wednesday morning, Pilot Dave and I woke with a fresh perspective. This is South Dakota and winter is here and we aren’t going to quit that easily. Dave took my hair dryer to the water pump and I covered the hydrant with black plastic and his grill cover, hoping to get some warmth in there or at least protect the pipe from the wind. Around 10 AM, the water pump defrosted and came back to life. Morale Booster! It really is the little things out here that make all the difference.
Since then, we have decided to run the pump off and on throughout the night to keep some water moving. This seems to be working – morale booster. We also have discovered we have a leak somewhere, and the waste water pipe to the dump valve has frozen solid – morale buster. The roller coaster continues. Today I am doing laundry in Hot Springs (which has the nicest laundromat I have ever seen in my life) and Dave is at Ace hardware picking up some heat tape and sealant for the pipes. We are not yet defeated! The forecast has two days next week with highs in the teens and it is supposed to drop below zero at night. An arctic blast! Our plan of attack is to stock up on propane and keep that camper and underbelly as warm as possible. We can also run the generator at night to keep the heat tape warm and put a light bulb under the camper body amongst the hay bales if necessary. Wish us luck!
Other good news is the progress on the house. The sheet rock guys (aka the Sheet Rockers….could be the name of a new rock band?) have been at it all week and are making tons of progress. Todd and his crew have been doing a heap of work as well and it seems like things are accelerating. The house is so insulated that even though the temps are in the teens at night it has remained 50 degrees or more!
So the saga continues…….despite what has been the low point in our adventure thus far we are still happy to be here. We really have no complaints, we are healthy, happy, eating well, entertained by cows, and definitely appreciating the freedom we have out here. We hope you will continue to read and I promise there will be less crabbing in the next blog, come hell or high water or snow drifts and no water.